Category Archives: Uncategorized

Did you ever work in the UK?

Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners

The following is sponsored content.

If you worked in the UK, then chances are that you might one day be eligible to receive a British pension, even though you are now living in Canada.

There are some criteria that you have to meet, but if you worked there for as little as one year, you could still be eligible when you reach retirement age. Click here to find out when that will be www.gov.uk/state-pension-age.

The Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP) is a not-for-profit group that provides all sorts of useful and knowledgeable information that can assist you in determining your future pension entitlement.

Example #1: Our current chairman emigrated to Canada in 1976 after only working six years in the UK. With the help of CABP pension experts, he is now getting almost $10,000 every year from his UK pension!

Example #2: A 75-year-old lady emigrated to Canada after working in the UK for 12 years. She was entitled to a UK pension 10 years ago but didn’t know it.

CABP recently helped her apply for her pension and when she receives it, she will get her annual amount going forward plus 10 years of uncollected pension! The amount that she will receive is still being calculated but it will be a significant sum of unexpected money.

It is hard to believe but it is true! Perhaps a pension is possible for you and if you join us we will help you find out.

Regardless of your age, now is the time to be looking into your British pension eligibility because every year that you delay might reduce your future amount.

Check out CABP’s website www.britishpensions.com or call the Toronto office at 416-253-6402.

It could be the smartest financial decision you have ever made.

Totally biased product review by me — Wildly Delicious Butter Chicken

Wildly Delicious Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken, no filter needed

Let’s start this completely biased review by saying one thing: no curry sauce in a bottle, tin or packet WILL EVER be as good as being freshly prepared from scratch in an Indian restaurant.

But …. some come quite close and do the job when you don’t want to go out or feel like something quickly prepared. I think that Wildly Delicious Butter Chicken fits the bill.

I found it in Pusateri’s for $7.99, not bad for the size of the bottle. It’s not huge but goes a long way once you add it to the frying pan with some chicken (or veggies). I like to use any kind of curry sauce just as a starter kit, so added some onions, extra garlic, extra ginger and tomatoes.

For once — and this is rare for me — I didn’t add any extra spice. If you’re a regular reader of this blog (thanks mum) you’ll know that I usually like to ramp up the heat levels to at least three nose-blowing tissues … but feel that Butter Chicken is best enjoyed as a subtle flavour, so left well alone for this one.

The sauce is nice and silky but I just added a little water to the bottle, shook it and poured the rest in as some stuck to the inside and I wanted every little buttery chickeny drop!

The flavour was really very good. If I closed my eyes while eating and drowned out the Real Housewives of Beverley Hills on the TV, my cat meowing and the ping-ping-ping of my work-from-home e-mail, I could just have been in a real Indian restaurant enjoying Butter Chicken. The taste was very close.

Embarrassed to mention it does say “feeds 3-4” on the bottle and I honestly was going to save some for lunch next day, but it was so good I just couldn’t stop.

Definitely on my list again and I give this a Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars.

Totally biased product review by me — Walmart Our Finest Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese

Walmart Our Finest Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese

A decent little budget cheese that holds its own

I always have a little giggle — or sometimes, a guffaw — when I read in the Brits in Toronto groups that expats miss the cheese from back home. Having been here 20 years, I can attest to the fact that there are some really good ones here, but you have to search them out.

Spend a few hours wandering around the Cheese Boutique sampling their wares and you’ll see what we mean. Brilliant shop. You pay for what you get … so be prepared for a little more outlay for a delicious selection.

Walmart gives good cheese too. Yep, you read that right. Take for example the Our Finest Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese brand. For around $5 for a decent block, it will satisfy those late night cheese on toast cravings or with a nice Ploughman’s lunch.

Not a huge crumble factor — you can slice quite deep in with a knife before it breaks in two — but has a decent flavour for a budget mature cheddar. A little tangy and creamy at the same time, it hits the spot quite nicely.

We give it a Brits in Toronto 3/5 stars.

Britannia: Britpop/Madchester/UKindie Video Dance Party — June 26

Britannia virtual

Suede and Pulp are just two of the Brit bands you’ll see this Friday night

Yes, it’s that time again to get your virtual dance shoes on, fire up the laptop, grab a beer and tune into the — first virtual — Britannia Video Dance Party! Brits in Toronto has covered these brilliant events before here and here, so take a look at what to expect.

It’s happening this Friday, June 26 from 9:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m. so join the common people for a special night of Britpop, Madchester and UKindie video favourites. Post your requests in the invite.

See videos from Oasis, The Verve, Suede, Pulp, Blur, Supergrass, The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, Sleeper, Shed Seven, The Boo Radleys, Wonderstuff, Ride, The Smiths, The Charlatans, Happy Mondays, Carter USM, Jesus Jones, Echobelly, Manic Street Preachers, Travis, Stereolab, Catherine Wheel, Ocean Colour Scene, EMF, House Of Love, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Kula Shaker, The Jam, Soup Dragons, The Auteurs, Joy Division, Ian Brown, Dodgy, Mansun, Black Grape, The La’s, The Farm, Republica, Menswear, Cast, Space, Longpigs, Echo and the Bunnnymen, Lush, Primal Scream, James, Saint Etienne, Gene, Jesus And Mary Chain, Lightning Seeds, Catatonia, Spiritualized, Adorable, Paul Weller, Franz Ferdinand, Super Furry Animals, Simple Minds, Rolling Stones, Flowered Up, The Bluetones, The Fall, New Order, The Mock Turtles, Radiohead, The Beatles and many more.

DJ Lazarus is a great bloke and puts tons of efforts into these (now virtual) events, so please support the Brits in Toronto music and arts scene by tuning in to say hi and have fun!

Let’s all help fellow Brit Simon find a job!

Simon Williams-Im

Friendly, outgoing, experienced, well travelled and a snappy dresser; form a queue, HR people

Simon got in touch with Brits in Toronto for help in finding a new role.

He wrote: “I am new to Toronto and I am looking for a new full- or part-time job for Monday-Friday. I am currently working remotely for a call centre for a charity and working as an online English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher.

“I have previous work experience as a receptionist, general admin, ESL instructor, journalist and a range of other roles (aka well rounded!).”

Simon is also very modest. His very nice website also mentions that he’s lived around the world including nearly eight years in South Korea … Belgium, Israel and England. Alongside a range of office and retail based roles in Birmingham, England and Vancouver.

“I am a very outgoing individual who is looking for a full- or part-time role in Toronto. I can start at short notice and hold a Canadian PR card,” he adds.

So, if you can help this Brummie land his next role — or just to compliment him on his cool fashion sense! — then you can find him at LinkedIn or via his resume.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Amanda Briggs

Photo by Darren Goldstein/DSG Photo.

Amanda enjoying a nice cup of Rosy Lee before she sells some houses

It’s been a while since we did a Successful Brits in Toronto because a little thing called a pandemic kind of threw a spanner in the works. Hope everyone is staying healthy and well.

But we’re back with a bang and a well-known face in the British expat community in Toronto: Amanda Briggs. She runs the Toronto Brit Meetup Group that — now virtually — holds a regular fun pub quiz night. Next one will be Saturday, June 6 so stay tuned for details.

And, if that wasn’t enough to keep Amanda busy, she also sells property via her very catchily-named The British Property Agent, so give her a shout if you’re in the market for a new manor.

Amanda is one of the few Successful Brits in Toronto that we’ve met in person — at last year’s amazing Brits in Toronto/TFC event — so it’s nice to finally feature her on the site.

Take it away, Amanda …

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

I moved here with my family in 1999 because it was either a move to Canada or Australia. Yes we planned to stay for a while, as we applied to be Landed Immigrants (now called Permanent Resident) before we arrived here. However three months after I moved here, I met someone who lived back in the UK. About three years later, I moved back to the UK and ended up staying for 10 years. I moved back to Canada in 2011 and I am now a Canadian Citizen.

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

Back then, I just e-mailed my CV to 10 companies that I wanted to work for and waited. Three of them got back to me and invited me for interviews. The lack of Canadian experience didn’t seem to hinder me too much back then; however I didn’t get an equal job here vs. the one I had back home — I had to take a lower level role.

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

Best: Lots of cultural diversity — you can eat pretty much any cuisine you like! I like that there isn’t much a class system here vs. back in the UK where is it more prevalent. It’s great being so close to lots of North American cities, outdoor life in Ontario is very popular and accessible, and the work/ life balance is better than when I was living in London.

Worst: The winters, trying to get people to understand my accent, food has more sugar in everything, not as many old buildings (vs. London), culture is a bit lacking — the country is only about 150+ years’ old, which is about the age of my flat back in London!

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

Yes I meet Brits all the time, through my job and social events. I have been running the Toronto Brit Meetup Group for about five years, and we host a very popular pub quiz night every three months (150+people attend), and regular pub nights where Brits and people who have a connection to the UK come to network, mingle and chat about all things British.

Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.

Keep an open mind when moving to Toronto. It is a lot harder to find a job than people think it is, and it is highly likely that you will have to take a job that is not what your career or experience relates to … however, a job is better than no job. You can always get another job that is more what you want to do in the future.

I help a LOT of Brits and other expats find a place to live when they first arrive in Toronto. Landlords are very selective when it comes to choosing tenants, and typically if you don’t have a job lined up when you arrive, it can be a lot harder for a landlord to say yes to you.

However there are ways to get around this, and I have a lot of experience in getting a new home for expats fast.

Winters can be a lot colder than people expect, even if they are forewarned! Your UK winter coat is not going to cut the mustard when it is -30 degrees with a wind chill.

The work/ life balance is better here than in London. Lot of opportunities to get out and about after work in the sun or snow.

Let’s all help fellow Brits George and Lewis find a job!

George and Lewis

George (left) and Lewis are keen to find work once they get to Toronto

George and Lewis got in touch to ask for a helping hand in securing some work in Toronto once the COVID-19 crisis is over. So if anyone out there can plan ahead or make a note to check them out, would be much appreciated.

Lewis writes …

“A friend and I are starting to look into moving to Toronto as soon as we can, hopefully as soon as all this corona [crisis] has blown over, and we’ve come across your page and are hoping that you can help us out. We’re just finishing up with university this year and have both lost our jobs due to the coronavirus so we feel now would be the perfect time to make the move while there’s nothing on for us.

“Ideally we’re looking at doing a bit of bar work for a few months, but with bartenders in North America not making as much as those in the UK we’re wondering as to whether we’d be able to make a decent living and be able to survive on a bartender’s wage and tips?”

If anyone in the industry has some insight to share, here are their LinkedIn profiles to get in touch.

Lewis: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lewis-cooper-a9833510a/

George: https://www.linkedin.com/in/george-wheater-b7ab04187/

Coronavirus resources for Brits in Toronto

Coronavirus

Coronavirus or COVID-19

In these scary and uncertain times, we thought it would be useful to compile a list of coronavirus/COVID-19 resources to help Brits in Toronto keep updated on what may affect them and their loved ones in the local area. Newcomers to the city may find it handy too.

This is definitely not an exhaustive list and we’ll add to and update it as we find relevant information. Please send suggestions via the contact form or tweet us, thanks.

Stay healthy, everyone.

Toronto Public Health

City of Toronto COVID-19 updates

Office of the Mayor John Tory

List of hospitals in Toronto

Media in Toronto

Toronto traffic updates

Government of Ontario COVID-19 updates

Toronto Pearson Airport

Government of Canada Employment Insurance benefits and leave

UK help and services in Canada

British Consulate-General in Toronto

36 local grocery stores in Toronto doing online delivery or pickup by neighbourhood

Canada is being left out in the cold … again

Tracy Gray and Nigel Nelson

Conservative MP Tracy Gray (Kelowna and Lake County) and Nigel Nelson (previous chair of the International Consortium of British Pensioners)

Nigel Nelson is a regular contributor to Brits in Toronto, and is a member of the non-profit Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP), and Previous Chair of the (also) non profit International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP).

Here are his latest thoughts on British pensioners in Canada who are in receipt of a UK state pension. All views are the CABP’s and Brits in Toronto does not endorse them and is not held liable in any way. As always, do your due diligence.

All it took was a referendum, three Prime Ministers and a general election to finally get Brexit over the line — well, that was easy, wasn’t it?

Now that the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has been signed the UK is in what is called the “transition period” for the rest of this calendar year. During this period, lawmakers in the UK and the EU are agreeing the nitty gritty details of the Withdrawal Agreement.

UK pensioners living in the EU have already been promised the annual increase to their UK state pension for the next three years should negotiating bilateral agreements extend beyond the end of the transition period (if the UK wants to extend the transition period, they have until July 1 to do so).

Meanwhile, there are 498,000 pensioners globally in receipt of a UK state pension who never receive the annual increase, and their UK state pension remains “frozen” at the level first paid. 91% of these pensioners have retired to live in the Commonwealth countries of Australia (228,000), Canada (128,000), New Zealand (65,000) and South Africa (32,000). They will remain out in the cold since the UK government is not offering them bilateral agreements and so their UK state pensions remain “frozen.”

Of the pensioners in Canada who have retired and are in receipt of a UK state pension, around 56% of them live in Ontario and another quarter live in BC.

My wife and I (who both receive frozen UK state pensions) recently had the opportunity to meet with our newly elected MP, Tracy Gray. Tracy has hit the ground running in her first term as an MP and is proud to be Shadow Minister for Interprovincial Trade as well as a Member of the Canadian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).

Tracy is one of the most engaged MPs that I have had the privilege of meeting, both in Canada and the UK. She had a lot of questions, so it was a good job I went well prepared!

We started by looking at the number of pensioners with frozen UK state pensions who live in Canada, then in BC and finally in her constituency here in Kelowna. We discussed the unfair and discriminatory policy the UK government has — you receive the annual state pension increase if you live in the USA, but you don’t if you live in Canada, for example.

We also highlighted how much less money, over time, that state pensioners receive compared to their peers in the UK.

So, for example, if you retired from the UK to Canada in June 2001, on a full UK state pension, you would have received £72.50 per week. Today, nearly 19 years later, you would still be getting £72.50 per week, and, as a result, you would have received £26,500 (C$47,000) less than you would have received if you had remained in the UK.

Tracy was interested in knowing what reasons that the UK government has given for not uprating our pensions. We explained the reasons (or excuses!), including cost and the need for bilateral agreements, which are illogical and discriminatory.

The UK government has estimated that the cost to uprate frozen pensions globally is £600 million a year, which sounds like a lot until you realise that the government is sitting on a state pension surplus of £18 billion, and it has estimated that by 2024-25, the surplus will be an eye-watering £50 billion.

What is even more frustrating is that the UK government has recently negotiated new bilateral agreements with some EEA countries (Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Switzerland and Republic of Ireland) when it has consistently said that no more agreements would be negotiated because they are too expensive; and there are likely to be more agreements to come with the remaining EU countries.

However, Commonwealth countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa are left out in the cold. Again.

In 2013, Freedom of Information Request No. 595 was filed in the UK, requesting clarification regarding the need for reciprocal agreements. The response from the UK government was, “Bilateral agreements are not necessary in order for pensions paid outside Great Britain and the EU to be uprated.”

It is unfortunate that MPs in Canada have been so badly advised in the past. The UK government is disingenuous in that it is still insisting that bilateral agreements are the only solution to providing state pension parity, when clearly, this is not the case.

We then covered the financial effect that the freezing of our state pensions has on the Canadian economy; the effect has been conservatively estimated to be north of half a billion dollars a year, and it impacts significantly on some of the oldest, most vulnerable and frail members of our society: seniors.

According to Statistics Canada, as at 2016, there were 828,000 pensioners living in Canada aged 65 and over on “low income,” and, according to the Canadian government, 10.3% of men and 10.8% of women aged 65 and over were living below the poverty line.

Tracy then asked how she could help, and we explained that a short-term goal was to get frozen state pensions onto the agenda at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in June of this year. Other goals included bringing this to the attention of the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, and all ministers whose departments would gain from unfreezing our state pensions.

In addition, we would like to establish a link between:
i) The Canada-United Kingdom Inter-Parliamentary Association (RUUK) and the APPG for Frozen British Pensions in the UK; and
ii) The Canadian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CCOM) and the APPG.

Finally, we said that a key goal was to encourage the Canadian government to ensure that any future trade deals between the UK and Canada are linked to the unfreezing of our state pensions.

The detailed Q&A we had with Tracy can be read here. If you are receiving a frozen British state pension, or you think you will qualify in the future, and you have not met with your MP yet, we would encourage you do so (they don’t bite — honestly!), and you can read the “CABP Talking Points About Our Campaign” notes we used here.

As Tracy is now a member of the Canadian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and it is due to meet soon, she will endeavour to get the frozen pensions issue onto the agenda for discussion at that meeting.

Tracy then suggested that we should look at raising a Parliamentary petition since one only needs 25 Canadian citizens and/or permanent residents to sign a petition for it to be debated in the House of Commons.

Our new MP here in Kelowna was very engaged throughout our 45-minute conversation, asking incisive questions and hopefully she will be very supportive of our cause going forwards.

Curious Minds: The Royal Family with Toronto Star’s Shinan Govani = Contest to win two subscriptions

Curious Minds

The Royal Family in decades gone by and Shinan Govani in days gone by

It’s contest time! But first read about what you can win before you decide to go for it or not. Huge clue: you should have some interest in the British Royal Family …

Are you still reeling from #Megxit? Gossiping over the latest season of The Crown? Holding a candle in the wind for the legendary Diana? Join Toronto Star Society Columnist — and avid Royal watcher — Shinan Govani as he breaks down the modern history of the one and only House of Windsor, bringing to life its most colourful personalities, its most opulent traditions and, of course, its juiciest scandals.

Featuring video highlights from royal milestones and special guest interviews with royal experts on both sides of the pond, this special Saturday morning series, unfolding across six weeks from March 14 – April 14, will be a spirited celebration — and clever dissection — of the family we can’t stop watching.

Shinan Govani is a contributing columnist with the Toronto Star and a columnist for Hello! Canada who was once dubbed “the go-to Canadian” by Page Six. Both social chronicler and pop culture decoder, he’s reported from fashion weeks in Milan and Paris and film festivals at Sundance, Cannes and Toronto and his writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, Town & Country and The Daily Beast.

Full course details are highlighted here.

So, do you want to win two free subscriptions for this? Simply rearrange these letters to form the name of a soon-to-be former British Royal: ARRYH

Post your answer and contact name in the comments and/or the Brits in Toronto Twitter feed and we’ll randomly select a winner on March 8 to pass on to the organizer.

The best of British to you all!

Britannia: Britpop & Madchester Video Dance Party with Oasis Spotlight — Feb. 22

Oasis spotlight

Bros have really let themselves go

Saturday, February 22 is shaping up to be the best night in 2020 for Brits in Toronto so far because of two main reasons: The Toronto British Expat Meetup Group Pub Quiz is happening AND Britannia: Britpop & Madchester Video Dance Party with Oasis Spotlight!

Start with one and end the night with t’other! Or you can stay in and stick t’kettle on for a luvly cuppa char, chook. Your choice.

Britannia is the ONLY Britpop Video Dance Party in North America. It’s packed with hundreds of Britpop fans getting down to the coolest UK tunes of the past and present.

This coming Saturday, at Remix Lounge in downtown Toronto, the night will feature an Oasis Spotlight = means lots of their videos will be played on the night by this Brit-related bloke, DJ Lazarus.

DJ Lazarus

“Hello? Who? Alright Gaz! You what? Can’t, mate, I’m spinning on me decks! I’ll give you a shout later, geezer! Sweet as!”

Join the common people for tunes from: Oasis, The Verve, Suede, Pulp, Blur, Supergrass, The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, Sleeper, Shed Seven, The Boo Radleys, Wonderstuff, Ride, The Smiths, The Charlatans, Happy Mondays, Carter USM, Jesus Jones, Echobelly, Manic Street Preachers, Travis, Stereolab, Catherine Wheel, Ocean Colour Scene, EMF, House Of Love, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Kula Shaker, The Jam, Soup Dragons, The Auteurs, Joy Division, Ian Brown, Dodgy, Mansun, Black Grape, Morrissey, The La’s, The Farm, Republica, Menswear, Cast, Space, Longpigs, Echo and the Bunnnymen, Lush, Primal Scream, James, Saint Etienne, Gene, Jesus And Mary Chain, Lightning Seeds, Catatonia, Spiritualized, Adorable, Paul Weller, Franz Ferdinand, Super Furry Animals, Simple Minds, Rolling Stones, Flowered Up, The Bluetones, The Fall, New Order, The Mock Turtles, Radiohead, The Beatles, and many more.

Text and/or post pictures and requests to the video screens during the party. Include the hash tag #britsintoronto too for absolutely no prizes whatsoever, but just for shits and giggles and our undying gratitude! 🙂

All the details are here so see you then! It really is a fun night.

Totally biased product review by me — Mistaan Sweets

Mistaan Sweets

Chicken Karahi bought from Mistaan Sweets. They also sell the spicy Tamarind Date sauce so we used that on some roast potatoes.

There’s a great little no-frills curry place up by Finch and the 404 called Mistaan Sweets but you wouldn’t notice it if you drove by as it’s tucked away in an industrial area, hence this review. You’re welcome.

As the name implies their specialty is sweet goods and they sell a ton of those, but the curries are just as good and very authentic. There’s not much seating space but we suspect most customers just grab a takeaway for the office lunch. It is open seven days a week which is a bonus too.

They also sell a nice range of Indian sauces and pickles at very reasonable prices.

Our go-to dish there is the Chicken Karahi and it’s a decent-sized portion at a nice price of $6.99 which is not bad at all. Just ask the server for extra spice and it will suit most tastes. Nice large chunks of chicken and keep an eye out for the green chilli they throw in for fun. That has bite! We still need to try more dishes, including the Vindaloo.

This is a great little place if you’re in the hood and we give it a Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars.

Update February 27, 2020
We have raised the rating to a Brits in Toronto 5/5 stars! Just had the Chicken Vindaloo and, OMG bruv, kidding you not, the flavour is on point. Be warned though = ultra hot spice level. We’re talking a 5-tissue blow your nose level. Love this place.

Skyfall In Concert

Skyfall In Concert

When Bond fires his gun the snare drums really kick in like pew pew pew!

If you like the music in James Bond films then you probably heard that the theme tune to the new upcoming Bond film came out yesterday.

Coincidentally, someone contacted us a few days previously via encrypted message in a secret drop box behind the Tim’s on Dundas Street West by Dufferin: Albert. Michael Albert.

Michael informed us of an exciting cinematic experience happening on February 21-22 that Bond fans and Brits in Toronto readers may be interested in. Special offer for Queen and country below.*

Skyall In Concert is at Meridian Hall (formerly Sony Centre) next week. In this concert screening, the most popular James Bond movie will be displayed on a huge screen with a full symphony orchestra playing the score, live, in sync with the film.

These kinds of events are great nights out — they give fans of the film a really unique and entertaining experience, and get to see films they love with the huge impact of a full orchestra.

This concert screening is also a great excuse for a swanky date night, and with Valentine’s Day TODAY, the timing couldn’t be better to score some tickets.

We think this 007 experience will be great!

*Michael is happy to offer Brits in Toronto readers 15% off tickets to the performances on February 21-22. To redeem the discount, please visit the website, select your desired performance, and enter the promo code: SHAKEN … as in, not stirred.

Totally biased product review by me — The Spice Tailor

The Spice Tailor

That artfully composed photo above shows the ACTUAL curry we made using The Spice Tailor

This blog was set up in part for Brits in Toronto to find the best curries in the city. That includes restaurants and the kind you can cook yourself at home. But which are NEVER as good as the restaurants. (Ping us if you know different, we’re all ears …)

Spotted The Spice Tailor on the shop shelf and was enticed by the nice package design. Always a sucker for a photo of the person that created the recipe, so did some Googling and found out this product is the result of Anjum Anand’s hard work. She’s a TV chef from the UK, so already bonus points as we all know the best curries come from the UK.

As we’re quite lazy too, we’re very keen on products that take the hard work out of throwing a Ruby Murray together after a hard day at work. The Spice Tailor we tried (Tikka Masala) had three separate pouches included: whole spice pouch, a base sauce and a stir-in sauce. All you have to provide is the meat/seafood and veggies. We also added some more hot sauce because this particular version was quite mild to our palate.

After toasting the spices for about 30 seconds we added chicken (already cooked to save time), added the base sauce and simmered for a few minutes. We stirred in the main sauce and cooked for a further 10 minutes or so. It was really quick and easy.

The final result? A nice, tasty curry that hits the spot but may need some extra hot sauce added to it depending on your taste. We’re keen to try more in this product range and give it a Brits in Toronto 3/5 stars.

Update March 17, 2020

We’re goan in!

On the advice of Anjum Anand herself (on Facebook but we can’t remember the link so here’s proof she is an actual person) we tried the Fiery Goan Curry tonight which was definitely a notch up in the spice level and, again, flavour was on point.

So we’re happy to upgrade The Spice Tailor to a Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars.

The Toronto British Expat Meetup Group Pub Quiz is happening February 22

Toronto Brits

Future British BFFs

Amanda got in touch and asked us to give a shout out to the first The Toronto British Expat Meetup Group Pub Quiz night of the year — no — the DECADE! It’s a biggie.

Details …

The quiz is a mixture of general knowledge and specific categories, covering all things British, Canadian and the world … and as always, there will be a theme.

DATE: Saturday, February 22

TIME: 7:30 p.m.

VENUE: Duke of Somerset, 655 Bay St., Toronto (nearest subway station is Dundas or College)

Please go to www.meetup.com and find the TORONTO BRIT MEETUP GROUP (with Amanda as the organizer)and sign up for free if you haven’t already. All the details are there.

Have fun all!

Toodle-pip, European Union

Brexit underline

Time to go it alone

Today, the UK is finally leaving the European Union, one of the most historic events in its history.

You’re either cheering or crying. No middle ground on this one.

Not going to get into the politics here, the pros and cons, the predictions. It’s happening and now we must all hope for the best and see if it was the right decision.

Will be keeping an eye on stats regarding more Brits coming to Toronto in the next few years. Or more Brits going home.

Who knows?

BBC TV News wants to chat to Brits abroad about Brexit

BBC News

The Beeb wants to chat to Brits abroad

We got an e-mail from someone at the Beeb who wants to chat to Brits abroad about Brexit. Here’s the request so please contact Victoria if interested.

Hi everyone, I’m Victoria Cook, a journalist at the BBC News in the UK.

I am looking for some British expats living abroad to take part in a short BBC TV News feature about Brexit. I’m keen to hear from people whose lives and/or businesses may be affected either positively or negatively after January 31.

It wouldn’t involve much commitment — just a short video message from your phone!

My contact details:

Tel: (from Canada) 011-44-7711348905
E-mail: victoria.cook@bbc.co.uk

Happy to explain more about it if you’re interested.

Kind regards,
Victoria Cook (in London)

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and fun 2020!

Happy New Year 2020

Wishing everyone a happy new year for 2020

I’ve been admittedly a bit absent from the blog for a while, for no particular reason. Just life, really. But thought it a good time to check back in as the last few days of the decade trickle by.

It’s that weird period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve where time melds together … a bit like Jeff Goldblum and the fly but without the huge bulbous eyes and acid vomit.

Seemed a bit narrow to wish just Brits in Toronto a great new year, so also hoping that Brits in London, Tottenham, Battersea, Cambridge, Leeds and a ton more also have a brilliant 2020!

Brits in Toronto has been going for over six years now (first post) and I’m thankful for all the support and suggestions along the way. Seems like only yesterday it was voted “Best New Website 2013” by my mum.

A huge highlight this year was the first Brits in Toronto/Toronto FC event we organized on a warm summer evening that brought out the crowds to watch some football and mingle. I personally met some people there for the first time that I’ve got to know via the blog, so hoping we can plan another one in 2020.

Also hoping to get some Brits together at a pub in Toronto around the end of January for a (formerly postponed) laugh or cry — depending on your political leanings — over Brexit and a pint or two. Seems like it’s finally happening now so let’s just get on with it. CBC News will probably come too and film some reactions.

One of my favourite parts of the blog is Successful Brits in Toronto. Constantly proud and inspired to see how people have left family and friends behind in the UK and made a good life in this city. Definitely want to feature more of those in 2020 so please send them my way.

I sense more Brits will be looking to move to Toronto next year and start the all-important job search. It’s definitely not easy. But there’s a place on the blog for those who are interested to send some info about themselves, what they are looking for and a link back to an e-mail or LinkedIn profile to give them a little head start.

Always interested in hearing about new places opening … food … drink … events that may be of interest to Brits so please send those along too for a totally biased product review by me. Sometimes there’s free stuff to be won, which is a bonus.

So, expect more posting frequency next year and the chance to connect, whether online or ideally, in person. It’s fun.

And that’s a wrap for the decade. Wishing everyone a fantastic new year and see you in 2020!

The 15th Annual @European Union Film Festival featuring British film, Only You

Only You

A tantalizing scene from Only You

The 15th Annual @European Union Film Festival – Toronto runs from November 7-21 and will be showing 28 films from 28 countries, all at the Royal Cinema.

This year, Brits in Toronto are thrilled to be co-presenting the Canadian premiere of the British film Only You playing on November 11 at 8:30 p.m.

As always, admission to the festival is FREE but you can reserve your seats in advance to avoid the line-up here.

Check back to this post/Twitter account a week before screening for your chance to … WIN TWO FREE TICKETS! = All you have to do is retweet this.

Here’s the trailer to wet your whistle:

Brexit: Are we over the line yet?

Brexit door

When one door closes another one stays closed too

Nigel Nelson is a regular contributor to Brits in Toronto, and is a member of the non-profit Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP), and Past Chair of the (also) non-profit International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP).

Here’s his latest thoughts on pinning the tail on the PM, Brexit, pensioners in Canada who receive the UK State Pension, and the upcoming Canadian election. All views are the CABP’s and Brits in Toronto does not endorse them and is not held liable in any way. As always, do your due diligence.

I received an e-mail from British Bloke yesterday and he invited me to write an article on Brexit — he said that I could write something for him this week, or wait until after the weekend.

Did I want to write something now (and look foolish next week) or play it safe and write after the vote. I told him that I was very busy this week, and would next week be OK?

The e-mail from him came at a timely moment as my octogenarian friend James (you may remember that I first introduced you to James in the Ouch! How Brexit is hurting UK pensioners in Canada and in the later article James and I go to London) and I were playing pin the tail on the next PM. Even with a blindfold on, he managed to pin it on Elizabeth May three times out of five — he always has had a penchant for strong women.

I had to explain to him that Elizabeth May was not standing in every constituency, and since he lives in Ontario he will have to choose somebody closer to home …

In a nutshell, where are we with Brexit?

So far, this single issue has blown through two Prime Ministers: David Cameron and Theresa May (who submitted essentially the same “Withdrawal Agreement” to the UK Parliament four times in succession, only to have four resounding defeats, leading to her resignation) and now threatens the short tenure of Boris Johnson.

This last one seems very strange since he easily won the hearts and minds of the Conservative heartlands in becoming PM, and he has been very consistent in saying that the UK is leaving the EU on October 31, come hell or high water, with or without a deal.

But there has still been strong resistance in his own Party, never mind Opposition parties that could see and smell blood in the water already.

In order to avoid a head-on collision, Boris prorogued Parliament which was deemed illegal, then the Benn Act was passed which forbade Parliament from taking the “no deal” route, and, instead Boris would have to agree with the EU a new withdrawal date).

Boris then expelled 23 members of his own Party for voting against him (including a good friend of the “frozen” pensioners, Sir Oliver Letwin (no name dropping, but one of the cleverest men James and I have ever met)), and he has kept plugging away, even issuing a document this week entitled “No-Deal Readiness Report” and agreed a “new” deal with the EU.

This was put before the UK Parliament today (Parliament has only sat three times since 1939 on a Saturday.

What has all the fuss been about, you may ask?

Finding a solution in Ireland that suits Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the UK and the EU — an impossible task you may think. Everyone was agreed that there should not be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (this would be like annulling the “Good Friday Agreement” and nobody wants to go there).

Boris has now agreed with the EU that the whole of the UK will leave the EU customs union. This will allow the UK to negotiate future trade deals with any country in the world. There will be different tax rates for goods that are transported to Northern Ireland, depending on where they are for use in Northern Ireland or whether they will be transported to the Republic of Ireland, and vice versa; goods that arrive in the Republic of Ireland will be taxed differently depending on whether they stay there or whether they are transported to Northern Ireland or the UK. More details of the “deal” can be found here.

Since my main interest in all of this is the impact any Brexit deal has on UK pensioners living in the EU. Essentially, if a Brexit deal is struck with the EU before the end of this month, then the UK pensioners living in the EU (of which, according to data from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) there were 498,000 as at February 2019) will continue to receive the annual increase to their UK State Pension (a bumper 4% next April) for the transition period which ends on December 31, 2020.

The transition period will then be used to negotiate reciprocal social security arrangements between the UK and each of the EU countries such that the UK pensioners living in the EU will continue to receive free healthcare and UK State Pension annual increases.

If the UK has not finalised a deal with the EU by October 31, then things get really interesting. Boris is adamant that the UK will leave by the end of this month, even if that means there is a “no deal,” and the Benn Act of Parliament prevents this from happening. The Benn Act is interesting because the Judiciary usually keeps its nose out of political decision making, but not so on this occasion.

So, if the UK does crash out of the EU on October 31, UK pensioners living in the EU will continue to receive the annual increase to their UK State Pension until 2023 — presumably because it will take much longer to negotiate bilateral social security agreements with each of the EU countries, since they will be really pissed off with the UK.

Also, with a “no deal” it is not clear whether the UK will still have to pay the divorce bill — which, according to the pillar of the British press, The Sun, is an amount “between £35 and £39 billion.”

It has taken a long time to get here, but how does this affect UK pensioners who have come her to Canada to retire?

According to Department for Work & Pensions numbers, there were close to 134,000 UK pensioners living here, and there will be no “bumper 4%” increase for them next April (there are over 26,000 of them who are receiving less than £20 per week (say, CAD 32), and another 50,000 who are receiving between £20 and £40 per week). A UK State Pension is “frozen” at the level at which it is first received, with no annual increase, ever.

So, by way of example, if you had retired from the UK and came here to Canada in 2001, aged 65, on a full UK State Pension, you would have received £72.50 (C$159) per week. You would still be getting £72.50 a week (C$119), but in real terms getting C$40 less per week due to the drop in the £ to CAD exchange rate. Since emigrating here, your peers back in the UK will have received £26,538 (C$47,026) more. If you are a retired UK ex-pat, this chart may help you see how much less you have received.

If you are already affected, or think that you will be affected by the UK “frozen pension” policy, and would like to help us in our fight, please check out the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP) and they may be able to help you.

Once new bilateral social security agreements have been negotiated between the UK and EU countries, then the “frozen” pensioner action groups like CABP will challenge the UK Government on a “why them, and not us?” basis.

Finally (at last, you say), if you were one of the 3.4 million Advanced Poll voters, then congratulations. If you didn’t vote in the Advanced Poll, and you are eligible to vote, I implore you to get out and vote on October 21.

This could be a close federal election, and every vote counts. I have no idea who James will be voting for … he is playing his cards very close to his chest … but, to his chagrin, it won’t be Elizabeth May!

Where do you stand on the “frozen pensions” issue? Nigel can be reached through:

E-mail: theretiree@telus.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011398010359
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/FrozenBritishPensions/

How will Brexit affect you? We’re looking for opinions: Part 1

Brexitsign

You MUST be affected by this, in some way, surely?

Jason Ho is a producer with CBC News and reached out to Brits in Toronto to put the word out that he’s looking for people who will be affected by Brexit in the following ways:

  • Supply chain — ability to get materials out of the UK to Canada and vice versa
  • Exiting or entering the country, consular services, visas, immigration issues
  • Healthcare service access
  • Anyone who’s getting paid in British pounds, worried about the cost of living in Canada if the currency fluctuates wildly
  • Concern about family members in the coming months and what the impact will be on the cost of living, supply chain within the UK
  • Effects we don’t know about but someone from Britain may be aware of
  • Those who Brexit will benefit in some way

You don’t have to particularly be a Brit expat, but do need to have a view or be affected by the above issues.

Please contact Jason directly at jason.ho@cbc.ca or 416-205-7420.

So, that’s Part 1.

If Jason gets enough respondents with the kind of feedback he’s seeking, then Part 2 will be that we all meet up at a British pub (got one already interested that has the space and allows media filming) the week before the Brexit deadline — so anywhere from October 25-29 — and Jason can take it from there for CBC News.

So, put the word out and contact Jason if you can help, then watch this space …

Xpat Xpo: Networking event and trade show for internationals living in Toronto

Xpat Xpo

“OK, hello Toronto! Now what?”

Are you an international living in Canada?

If you’re reading Brits in Toronto you may get asked that question a lot. You may also be asked to say the words “urinal,” “aluminium” or “water” a lot too for the cheap laughs. But we digress.

Created by a fellow Brit in Toronto, Kate Johnson wanted to share her knowledge, connections and experience with her fellow immigrants so started Xpat Xpo.

Xpat Xpo is a Toronto networking event and trade show created to celebrate Canada’s cultural diversity. It’s a one-stop shop; home away from home; where you can gain valuable knowledge as well as meet people from all over the world.

The Trade Show Floor features Service Canada, Immigration Lawyers, CRA, Desjardins, Health Canada, ACCES Employment, Entrepreneur Services (such as franchising) and more.

The Speakers Core has talks on renting/buying real estate in Toronto, how to get Permanent Residency, how to manage your finances abroad, and how to find your perfect job in the city.

The Networking Lounge has music, coffee, couches, flag face paint, FREE professional head shots to improve your LinkedIn profile, and prize-giveaways; so people can meet and mingle with others who have chosen Canada as their new home.

And best of all, use the promo code BRIT50 when you register for 50% off the price of admission (only $6!).

Date: Sunday, October 6, 2019 (This weekend!)
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Location: Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge St., Toronto

Soldier On

Soldier On

Soldier On features a cast of actors and veterans

Jennifer Grose is the producer of Soldier On, a play about how veterans cope with coming back into civilian life. “It’s a sort of ‘Full Military Monty’, if you will,” she wrote.

“We are bringing it over from London, UK to Toronto this November and are looking to get the word out. We have Thomas Craig from Murdoch Mysteries in it and Lance Corporal Cassidy Little who is a former Royal Marine medic, who lost his right leg below the knee during a tour of Afghanistan in the summer of 2011. Most of the cast are from the UK and we will have a handful of Canadians as well joining them. Half are actors and half veterans.

“It was produced in the UK by the Soldiers’ Arts Academy (SAA), which is about creating a platform for the veteran community to engage with careers in the performing arts.
The play had its first performance at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter in 2018, and it’s been universally very positively received by both critics and audiences wherever it’s been on since.

“We were then invited to bring the show into London’s West End by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s team, and we ran for a month at The Other Palace Theatre in November 2019,” added Jennifer.

Now Soldier On will be coming to Toronto November 26 – December 8, 2019. For ticket information please visit www.soldierontoronto.com

Proceeds from ticket sales go to members of the Armed Forces and their families.
Military members and first responders are eligible for discounted pricing.

More information too on Instagram and Twitter.

British Expat Pub Quiz: Back To School

The Toronto Brit Meetup Group

Curly Wurlys and Hobnobs ahoy!

And we’re back. The summer break was great but we saw a leaf fall from a tree the other day. It’s done. Had an ugly cry in the shower and now we’re over it and looking for fun things to do in Toronto this autumn.

What a coincidence! Amanda from The Toronto Brit Meetup Group asked us to give a shout out to their next pub quiz night at the Duke of Somerset on Saturday, September 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Here’s the blurb (her words) from Amanda …

Please join us at our very popular pub quiz night, where you have the opportunity to meet fellow Brits to chat about all things British that you miss, over a pint whilst answering trivia questions for the chance to win a Curly Wurly or a packet of Hobnobs!

The quiz is a mixture of General Knowledge and specific categories, covering all things British, Canadian and the World.

This quiz, the theme will be BACK TO SCHOOL — however, as always, don’t always take our headings literally as we could throw in a spin to the theme just to keep things interesting!

Things you should know;

1. Please be at the Duke of Somerset by 7:00 p.m. at the latest.
2. Kick-off is at 7:30 p.m. sharp, so if you don’t have a seat and a drink by then, you might not be able to participate. We will aim to finish by 10:30 p.m.
3. Numbers are limited to 135 (legally by the pub for fire safety reasons), so the first 135 to RSVP and turn up on the night will have a shot at winning. Once we reach this number we will not be allowed to let anyone else in, so your RSVP doesn’t guarantee you a seat — hence the reason to get there early.
4. Teams are limited to 6 people maximum. Start thinking of your team name now.
5. You are welcome to come on your own, with a partner/friend/Mensa member, and we will join you up with other people on the night. More brain cells = prizes.
6. PRIZES!
1st prize – British goodies gift basket worth $125.
2nd and 3rd prizes – Duke of Somerset gift vouchers and a British goody bag.
4th to 10th prizes – British goody bags.
If you don’t make the top 10 teams, better luck next time.
7. On the night Amanda will be ably assisted by Charlotte and Yvonne who will allocate you to a team (if you want to be), collect your Meetup dues, collect the papers and hand out prizes. Phil will be on the microphone trotting out the questions as the Quizmaster. We will all be wearing name labels.
8. Name labels: we will have sticky labels and pens for you to all write your name on, and where you are from. It’s a Meetup, so let’s all meet someone new; however as much as you probably will meet new people, this event isn’t a “mix and mingle” type of event which we hold separately. We are all here for the questions and the chance of winning a Curly Wurly or packet of Hobnobs!
9. Cost: $5. Yvonne and Charlotte will be round to rattle the tin when the quiz gets going.
10. Looking forward to seeing you all soon.

So, there you have it. Pub … Brits … Curly Wurlys … what could be better?

Successful Brits in Toronto: Jake Wyatt

Jake Wyatt

If the photographer had moved slightly to the right and crouched down a bit, the ball on the trophy would have fitted exactly over the ball on the logo behind.

If you attended the recent Brits in Toronto and TFC British Heritage Night, you would have spotted a very tall bloke strolling around, looking down and surveying all in his BMO Field kingdom.

That would have been Jake Wyatt who came up with the idea in the first place, roped in all the local Brits in Toronto looking for some free PR on the back of a Championship-winning Toronto football team and the rest is history.

Since then we’ve had about five e-mails from people with the same surname Wyatt, which is really a coincidence, asking us to feature him as our latest Successful Brit in Toronto.

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

My journey towards living in Canada/Toronto has been interesting. I grew up in England playing basketball. I was a 6’4 lanky teenager and found my way into a local basketball team. Turned out I would fall in love with the game and decided to take it serious and ended up playing at a decent level.

At the age of 18 I left England to move to Iceland and play for FSU basketball team/ youth academy in the Icelandic town of Selfoss.

After spending one year in Iceland, I was offered a position with an American college basketball team in Pennsylvania. I graduated four years later and attended Grad School in Montgomery, AL. It was here that I met my Canadian wife Paige who was a fellow international student studying at a local college.

So yeah, long story short fell in love with a girl and here I am and couldn’t be happier!

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

I was lucky, I found out at an earliest age that I wanted to work in sports and I enjoyed selling; sports sales was a natural fit. I had some great mentors growing up who encouraged me to get as much experience in sports business as possible and I was able to do several internships/entry-level jobs in the industry. Once my wife and I decided Canada/ Toronto was going to be home, I started applying for jobs in my field.

Timing worked out and a job became available at MLSE in sports sales. I had decent experience working in sport business with a few different teams in the states and back in England — I also had a few connections in my network that helped me with references here at MLSE.

I applied for the position, and after a long process, battling with Skype interviews and time zones, I landed the job. I was still in England at the time, so was one of the lucky ones who had a job lined up as soon as I landed in Canada.

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

I love living here in Canada and being in this city. I had been lucky to travel at a young age. For me Canada/ Toronto is the perfect mix of England and USA.

The people here have a genuine friendliness to them. I loved my time in America, and met some great people who are now lifelong friends … the food, big roads, and American dream spoke to me!

However, as time went on I found people/relationships in the States (especially the south) can be service level. At times, when I was in the States I found myself missing the English greeting at a local pub — where you walk in and the bartender starts pouring a pint of Fosters, slams it on the table and sticks their hand out for the four quid you owe them, make some joke about your chosen attire, then proceeds to ask how your day was. Sounds strange I know, but I missed that when I was in the States; I found the “You’re Welcome/My Pleasure” interactions a bit false at times.

Here in Canada, I find the people are genuine and more able to keep up with the English banter, it’s a welcoming country of diverse people, but still has the “Canadian Dream” element. I find Canada welcomes people to be themselves. With such a wide range of cultures I have never felt the need to act or behave “Canadian” … instead, I find the country encourages me to be the best version of myself and add to society that way.

The toughest part of being here is distance from family and friends in the UK. I don’t feel homesick, but it is hard not being able to pop round and see family on weekends and having to allow for the five-hour time difference when communicating with friends and family back in England.

On the plus side it is always nice to visit home during holidays and host friends and family when they want to come out and visit.

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

Since being here I have been surprised to see how big the “Brits In Toronto” community is. It is always nice to bump into fellow Brits and talk all things from pubs to English fry ups!

I recently worked with this blog and a number of the other English social groups to plan a Brits In Toronto event at a Toronto FC game. The event was great, and lots of people at the event were surprised with the standard of football this side of the pond.

Sorry, the salesman in me is coming out here … but attending TFC, Raptors and Leafs games is a great way to feel connected with the city and meet people; I have bumped into several Brits, especially at TFC games.

I am in a lucky position to sell a product I believe in. If anyone is interested in Toronto FC ticket packages or wants to meet up at a game please do reach out and contact me at jake.wyatt@mlse.com or 416-815-5400, ext. 3072. We have also set up a discount code with Brits in Toronto: click HERE and use the promo code “BritsInToronto” — this will get you up to a 25% discount on TFC tickets.

Okay sales pitch over! But to answer the question, yes I have made an effort to connect with fellow Brits and I am looking forward to continuing to do so in the future!

Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.

My advice would be to embrace your British roots but also accept that this is Canada and this is your home. This website and other groups on social media are a great way to stay connected with the British community.

But get involved in living in Canada — meet people, explore, and learn from different cultures. This city has so much to offer, from food, to festivals and professional sports teams. I still get the buzz when driving into the city, especially at night.

This is a special place and be sure to not become numb to the city. Remember the feeling of first being here and make a conscious effort to hold onto that feeling.

Oh and wear as many layers as possible in the winter, it is bloody freezing!

Thanks Jake. Didn’t notice the sales pitch at all, mate. If anyone wants to connect, here’s his LinkedIn profile.

Need to transfer money overseas? Maybe VFX Financial can help

VFXF

It’s the VFX Financial logo, very minimalist

Fellow Brit in Toronto Andy Hedges reached out to Brits in Toronto for help in getting the word out about a company he works for called VFX Financial, so we said we’d give it a quick plug. Here’s the details …

Anglo Canadian currency specialists VFX Financial have provided Brits in Toronto readers with an extra special rate for their currency needs. So whether you are already based in Canada and need to send money overseas (not just to the UK,) or you are in the UK and need some loonies, VFX Financial can help.

Highlights include:

  • Special rate for all Brits in Toronto readers.
  • No transfer charges.
  • Generally 2%-3% better rates than banks.
  • Suitable for both Brits coming to Canada and individuals and businesses already located here.
  • Free multi-currency card for UK/Eire based clients — perfect to save money when travelling as there are no overseas usage fees.
  • Same or next day delivery of currency.
  • Fully regulated in both Canada and the UK/EU.
  • No minimum or maximum transfer limits.

To benefit from the special negotiated rate, during the sign-up process, simply enter the word “Brits” as the intro code. You can e-mail Andy for more info too at brits@vfxfinancial.ca.

That’s about it, really. Full disclaimer: do your own research on all the above before signing up, Brits in Toronto cannot be held responsible for your dealings with the company and no money changed hands for this post, it’s purely for informational purposes.

Totally biased product review by me — London Gate British Pub

Her Majesty

Actually, ma’am, it’s Harry’s pub

Brits in Toronto has been searching the city for nigh on 19 years and counting for the quintessential proper authentic “British curry” and has — thus far — come up short. And we’ve been to a LOT of curry houses in and around the GTA. (A couple have come close if you look back at some of our totally biased product reviews.)

That may have changed yesterday when we checked out the London Gate British Pub. According to the owner and head chef, Harry — a Yorkshireman who lived in Scotland for 20 years before moving to Ashford, Kent and who has cooked in a lot of Indian restaurants — wants to bring that real British curry taste to Toronto.

First things first. This is a little off the beaten track at Eglinton Avenue West and Renforth Drive. Harry says they will be on Skip The Dishes at some point.

Secondly, it doesn’t look like a British pub from the outside so you may drive right past it. There is a Guinness sign outside to clue you in. Plus lots of parking.

The space is HUGE with a patio, pool table and semi-private room that can presumably be booked for events.

Telephone Box and Pool

Semi Private Room

So, food and drink I hear you ask? Here’s the tap list. Pretty impressive. We sampled the Honey Dew and it was very nice.

Honey Dew

The bangers and mash with caramelized onions and gravy was also good, but lost points because Canadian baked beans were used instead of British-style baked beans. Harry explained that they are too expensive. We countered that they are now freely available in Canada and maybe can be included as an optional side for an extra dollar or something. Harry rubbed his chin and looked thoughtful at that suggestion, so stay tuned.

Bangers and Mash

The kicker was the Yorkshire Pudding wrap with garlic aioli, mixed cheese, caramelized onions, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, drizzled with gravy and served with fries. Choice of protein: chicken, sliced roast beef or soy. (Lots of veggie and vegan options here too.) This was a very large wrap so come hungry. It’s like a roast dinner wrapped up on a plate!

Yorkshire Pudding Wrap

So, we got chatting about the curry options on the menu at that point. There’s tandoori chicken flatbread, butter chicken rice bowl, English curry and chips and chicken tikka naan. Harry was kind enough to bring us out a sample bowl of the butter chicken and it was delicious. No oily ghee, not greasy. Just a really good flavour. (Ate it too fast to snap a photo.)

BREAKING NEWS! Saved the best till last. You know when you’ve had a few pints and really crave a doner kebab? Not shawarma … or gyro … but a real doner? Well, Harry is putting those on the menu soon too. And we tried his house-made red sauce, the real stuff that is hard to get here. It is excellent. We were eating it with a spoon and wanted more.

So, find a designated driver and head to London Gate. We give it a Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars. (Harry — please introduce the doner and offer British baked beans and we’ll have a chin wag about the coveted 5th star …)

Join the GTA Scotland Supporter Club

GTA Scotland Supporter Club

Some Scottish players celebrating a goal

Just a quickie for a Sunday morning.

Joe Sinclair contacted us to spread the word that he’s setting up a GTA Scotland Supporter Club, so we’re happy to oblige.

You can check out the Facebook page, which describes it thus:

“Looking to establish a strong Scotland supporters club here in the Greater Toronto area. Let’s join together to watch all Scotland football and rugby games while enjoying a social time with others and all round good banter. Who knows? Maybe arrange a trip to see a game!!”

Or contact Joe at dvon30@hotmail.com for more details.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Andrew Mcloughlin

Andrew Mcloughlin

Locked himself out yet again

They say an Englishman’s home is his castle but unless you own Casa Loma that’s not entirely true. So today’s Successful Brit in Toronto — Andrew Mcloughlin — is here to set the record straight as a real estate professional.

“Our house, it has a crowd,” explains Andrew. “There’s always something happening and it’s usually quite loud. Our house, in the middle of our street.”

That doesn’t really narrow it down much in a city the size of 630 square kilometres, so we need to find out more about Andrew’s passion for real estate, what brought him here to Toronto, what he’s up to and so on.

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

Growing up in the North-West of England had a lasting impact on me. It taught me that I needed to strive and plan for my goals if I ever want to achieve them. St. Helens is a great town with some amazingly talented people, but there was a point in my life, when I was around 18 years old that that travel bug bit me … and it bit hard.

A friend and I decided to travel throughout Europe for three months. This experience was transformative. It opened our minds and expanded our world view in the most impactful of ways.

Following that trip, we were hooked and knew we needed to travel more — so, on a whim, we decided that we wanted to work in Canada. We applied for work permits, packed our bags, and off we went!

At that age, everything is an adventure and this was no different. I eventually got a permanent work permit and then, over time pursued Canadian citizenship.

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

It wasn’t the smoothest transition for me. I had some experience in software development and web design but initially I was prepared to work anywhere, doing almost anything; from working at a clothing store in the Eaton Centre to an industrial metal bending factory in Vaughan.

At the time, I thought nothing of waking up at 4:00 a.m. to take the subway and two buses north of the city, because it was all part of the experience! Through these opportunities, I was afforded the chance to meet new people and really getting to know my new city.

I eventually landed permanent roles in web development for marketing agencies and then earned the opportunity to work for a multi-national financial firm in their marketing and analytics department for the last nine years.

I always knew that my passion was in real estate and during my time working in the financial industry, I pursued my real estate goals and became a licensed realtor. As a realtor, I am inspired by the families and investors I am fortunate to partner with.

I am inspired everyday as I introduce clients to their dream homes and support them in turning those dreams into a reality!

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

Culture, diversity, great food — Toronto has it all. I really love this city! I met my wife here — over 10 years ago — and I am not afraid to say that I was punching above my weight when I first asked her out … but this is Toronto … and anything can happen!

The sights also get me every time. Coming from a small town in the UK, I wasn’t used to big cities and I still get a feeling of excitement in my stomach when I drive south on the DVP, on to the Gardiner into the downtown core. It’s great!

I don’t love the traffic, but for a world class city, Toronto feels smaller and more intimate than other big cities.

I feel as though there are so many opportunities here if you are willing to work for them.

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

It’s by no mistake that my wife, son and I chose a neighbourhood that has one of the largest British demographics in the city!

One of my favourite local spots that has THE BEST fish and chips in Toronto is only a few blocks from our house. If you take anything from this article you must go to the Olde Yorke Fish and Chips in Leaside. Do it now … you won’t regret it!

Andrew very kindly sent along a ton of links at that point, but we countered back and knocked him down a few, thus we shook hands on the deal at that point and here is the piece of Brits in Toronto website real estate he now lauds over forever. Pay him a visit!

https://realestatewithandrew.ca

https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrew-mcloughlin-969637176/https://twitter.com/myagentandrew

https://twitter.com/myagentandrew

https://www.instagram.com/mytorontorealtor

https://www.facebook.com/realestatewithandrew

Join the Brits in Toronto community and Toronto FC for a huge football event on June 7

TFC British

Come out on June 7 to watch some football and have some fun with your fellow Brits in Toronto

Brits in Toronto, the Toronto Brit Meetup Group and Typically British Toronto have teamed up with Toronto FC for a night of fun, football, music, pints, food, networking and interactive games with prizes to be won on Friday, June 7.

A lot of work is going into the planning of this for the British community in Toronto and we’re expecting 150+ to come out and meet fellow Brits and catch a TFC game as they take on Sporting Kansas at BMO Field.

So, plan to come out, bring your friends and family and let’s show Toronto that there’s a very active British community that supports its team and city!

Here’s what you get for the measly price of $54 per ticket:

  • Early access to the stadium
  • $10 food and drink voucher!

The schedule, as it stands now …

5:00 p.m.
Meet at Brazen Head pub if you want a pre-game pint.

6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
Early entrance to BMO field at gate 1B.
Welcome remarks by reps from your hosts TFC, Brits in Toronto, Toronto Brit Meetup Group and Typically British Toronto.
Music!
Networking!!
Three raffle prizes!!!
The PRIVATE bar opens!!!!

7:00 p.m.
Kick-off — Go TFC!!!!!

9:00 p.m.
Optional for people to stick around and watch the Raptors game inside the stadium on the big screen!!!!!!

Here’s some shots of the private area and bar that has been exclusively reserved for ticket-holders before kick-off:

June71

June72

June73

June74

OK, then — at this point you’re probably gagging for a ticket so here’s how to purchase one (or more we hope) …

Simply visit this link and use the password: British

Or, if you prefer to speak to the TFC rep organizing all this for us — and fellow Brit in Toronto — contact Jake Wyatt at 416-815-5400, ext. 3072 or e-mail jake.wyatt@mlse.com and he’ll gladly help.

Hope to see all you fellow Brits in Toronto on June 7 for what promises to be a stellar night of football and networking. Cheers!

We have 10 FREE double passes to see an advance screening of Tolkien on May 6

Tolkien

Tons of British actors in this one

“Hello, my precious. Do you want the ring? No. OK then, how about 20 free tickets to a film about the bloke who invented that character? Sorted, Bilbo.”

We made some of that quote up, but if you love The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings then you have to see this film — Tolkien — that explores the formative years of the renowned author’s life as he finds friendship, courage and inspiration among a fellow group of writers and artists at school.

Their brotherhood strengthens as they grow up and weather love and loss together, including Tolkien’s tumultuous courtship of his beloved Edith Bratt, until the outbreak of the First World War which threatens to tear their fellowship apart.

All of these experiences would later inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-earth novels.

Here’s the trailer:

Fox Searchlight Pictures and Brits in Toronto want to send you and a friend to the Toronto advance screening of Tolkien on Monday, May 6 at 7:00 p.m. at Cineplex Varsity.

For your chance to attend, simply go to the link below to claim your pass. Passes available while supplies last — there are 10 double passes as of this posting so … GO!

http://www.foxsearchlightscreenings.com/scLVG72137

Tolkien is in theatres Friday, May 10.

(Please note this is not to be confused with Lord of the Dance or Lord of the Flies.)

Let’s all help fellow Brit Jordan find a job!

Jordan William

Senior Proactive Digital Marketer Extraordinaire! He even wrote his own blog post for us.

Fellow Brit in Toronto, Jordan, moved here in October and is looking for a job to suit his skills. If anyone out there can help in any way, shape or form, it would be much appreciated.

Jordan did us a favour and wrote his own blog post. That shows a LOT of proactive initiative in DIGITAL MARKETING! HINT! SNAP HIM UP NOW!

Take it away, Jordan …

Jordan moved to Canada at the beginning of October last year on an International Experience Canada visa.

He worked in retail at Club Monaco for his first six months here and is now looking for a digital marketing position in downtown Toronto.

Jordan has worked in a not-for-profit environment since 2015 and is now looking to transition to for-profit or agency environment. He has degrees in Digital Marketing and Film Studies and has worked on a large variety of marketing projects in the past all with successful outcomes.

Key skills include: marketing, budget management, internal communications, social media management, content creation, crisis communications, project management, content management systems, customer relationship management, lead generation, design and copywriting

Fun facts about Jordan:

He once completed a charity walk up Mount Snowdon.
He can make pizza from scratch.
He was president of his university’s LGBT+ society.
LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in/jordanpatrickwilliam/
E-mail: jordanpatrickwilliam AT gmail DOT COM

We had to wrestle the blog back out of Jordan’s hands, but all the details you need are above. Good luck to him!

Brits In Toronto have partnered with Toronto FC to offer discounted tickets to the British community

TFCpromo1

“What? 25% off tickets? Deserves a round of applause, that does.”

In part 1 of exciting football news regarding Toronto FC and Brits in Toronto, the two hugely successful organizations have partnered up as BFFs to offer some decent ticket discounts to the British community.

If you’ve never seen a live TFC game before or are a Brit visiting Toronto on a scouting trip as a possible city to move to, then take full advantage of this offer, save some cash and pay a visit to BMO Field.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! There will be some more exciting news soon whereby TFC and Brits in Toronto will host a meetup before the Sporting Kansas City game on Friday, June 7. We’re talking pre-match pub … reserved seating area at the game … FREE stuff … and end-to-end action with tons of goals (for TFC, obvs). So mark your calendar to “work from home” that day because it’s about time we all met for a chinwag, beers (ginger ale if you’re driving) and some ruddy good fun with the Brits in Toronto community.

If you can’t wait until then — already counting the days, right? — then read on for the discounted tickets offer for the following matches:

SAT APR 6 at 3:00 P.M. VS. CHICAGO FIRE
SAT APR 27 at 3:00 P.M. VS. PORTLAND TIMBERS
SAT MAY 11 at 3:00 P.M. VS. PHILADELPHIA UNION
WED MAY 15 at 8:00 P.M. VS. D.C. UNITED

Click here and use the password “BritsInToronto” to get up to 25%* off the ticket price. The flyer is here if you wanted to check it out.

For additional information, season ticket questions or to book a group of 10 or more, please contact fellow Brit in Toronto Jake Wyatt at jake.wyatt@mlse.com or give him a bell on the dog and bone at 416-815-5400 ext. 3072. Please tell him Brits in Toronto sent you!

*Discount percentage calculated off on single ticket price + any eligible service fees.

The Toronto Buccaneers player clinic and open house on April 14

Toronto Buccaneers Rugby Club

1976 = Apple was started, the CN Tower opened and The Toronto Buccaneers Rugby Club was established. We also thought Bucks Fizz won the Eurovision Song Contest but that was in 1981.

Greg reached out to Brits in Toronto looking for some promo for an upcoming player clinic and open house on April 14. From the flyer …

The Toronto Buccaneers are pleased to announce their spring 2019 player clinic and open house to be held April 14, 2019 at the Major League Sportsplex (641 Danforth Road,  Scarborough).

The session is the ideal opportunity for players (16 years of age and up) new to the game to learn what the sport of rugby is all about and for experienced players to take their game to the next level.

The clinic runs from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and includes a meet and greet with the coaching staff and president of the club.

The first 25 players to pre-register receive a free Toronto Buccaneers Rugby t-shirt*. Register by sending an email to recruit@buccaneersrugby.com.

Things to bring:
– Cleats (no metal studs) or runners
– Mouthguard (recommended)
– Shorts and a jersey
– Water

We look forward to seeing you out!

*All players are welcome but only new players to the club are eligible to receive a t-shirt.

Let’s all help fellow Brit Alex find a job!

Alex Irving

Say goodbye to quaint English country garden trestle tables and hello to condo patios where you have to book the BBQ!

Do you know what propaganda is? It’s when a Cockney takes a long look at Alex’s resume … and likes what he sees.

Alex contacted Brits in Toronto with the exciting news that he’s coming to Toronto on March 19 and would like to get a job ASAP.

“I have extensive experience in VIP client and supplier management and also in team management. Basically I’m looking for something in sales/ business development or partnership management.”

A quick scan of his resume using the patented HR slush pile bot reveals more: “I would best describe myself as a highly ambitious, self-motivated leader with an entrepreneurial spirit and strong desire for personal and professional growth. A keen focus on relationships is something I pride myself on maintaining to a high level with friends, colleagues and clients alike.”

So, if any connected Brits out there remember what it’s like to come to a new city and try to make a go of it, please reach out to Alex via his e-mail alexirving8 AT hotmail DOT COM or his LinkedIn profile.

And A Scotch Egg: A British-style panel show

And A Scotch Egg

We can see Mr. Bean’s jacket and some mashed potato, but that’s about it

Dan e-mailed to let us know about a British-style panel show called And A Scotch Egg.

And A Scotch Egg is everything you love about British panel shows, brought to you live on stage every month at Comedy Bar.

In each show two hilarious teams of comedians face off in a series of quizzes, games and challenges in order to see who has the right combination of wit and wisdom to win the competition — and with it the people’s ovation and fame forever!

The theme for their first show is SCIENCE!

Team Marmalade: Mike Payne (captain) with special guests Lexa Graham and Joey Harlem.

Team Horseradish: Peter Fraser (captain) with special guests Brian Millward and Chris Sandiford.

Hosted by Dan Donnelly.

So if that sounds like a bit of a giggle, the first one is at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 17 for $10 a ticket.

Let’s all help fellow Brit Nicole find a job!

nicole walters

Already thinking about a lunch expense account

Been a while since we posted so firstly … happy new year! Only about 346 days left till Christmas.

Let’s start off mid-January 2019 with helping a fellow Brit find a job.

Nicole will be making the big move to Toronto at the beginning of April this year on an International Experience Canada working holiday visa.

With regards to finding a job once she arrives, Nicole has been looking online at some Toronto-based recruitment agencies, and have even signed up to some local career fairs — however she would hugely appreciate it if anyone out there can offer some leads or advice for her job prospects when she arrives in this fair city.

On her arrival in Toronto she will be looking for an administrative or customer service based-role.

She has over eight years of administrative and secretarial experience and is happy to be put forward for either a temporary or contract position.

Nicole considers herself to be hardworking, motivated and adaptable with excellent organisation, communication and IT skills. She can adapt to fast-paced environments and work well under pressure, both independently and as part of a team.

Her previous roles include a Client-Services Coordinator, Team Secretary and Employer Liaison Coordinator.

Interesting fun facts fact about Nicole:

She performed as a dancer in the 2012 London Olympics opening and closing ceremonies.
She can complete the Rubik’s Cube in less than a minute.
She can play the trumpet.
She can play the piano.

So, there you have it. Very impressive indeed. If anyone has some help to offer please contact Nicole at nicole.walters92 AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk. Cheers!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Miranda Anthistle

Miranda Anthistle

Look familiar? Then you watch CTV Toronto.

Brits in Toronto got an anonymous news tip the other day (thanks Brian, see you at Scallywags next Saturday?) and not being ones to burn our sources, decided to follow up on the scoop.

Five minutes of hard Googling later we discovered Miranda Anthistle, a Successful Brit in Toronto, who is a reporter at CTV Toronto.

Sometimes those people reporting the news become the news. So much so, in fact, that we requested an exclusive e-mail interview that Miranda happily agreed to … and here’s the result. (Didn’t have time to fact check it because Dufferin Mall was closing and we still had some Crimbo stuff to get, but it looks pretty honest.)

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

I didn’t have a choice! It was already a done deal before I was born. My mum grew up in Toronto, while my dad grew up in London which is where they ended up meeting one another through a mutual friend.

When my dad proposed, my mum said she would marry him … but only if he promised they would eventually move to Toronto where most of her family still lived.

I was born in London and grew up there until I started primary school.

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

I had to leave the city in order to land my first on-air gig in Toronto!

I started in Medicine Hat, Alberta (which actually has a huge British population due to the nearby army base that houses BATUS: British Army Training Unit Suffield).

From there I worked in Hamilton before moving back to Toronto to work at Bell Media as a reporter.

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

The best part of living in Toronto is that the whole world is right at your doorstep. I grew up with friends from a variety of different cultures which exposed me to so many incredible experiences.

I have the most eclectic taste in music and love all types of food.

And in Toronto it doesn’t matter what mood you’re in — there’s always a dance floor or restaurant nearby to scratch that itch!

The worst part about living in Toronto? Trying to buy property downtown that’s larger than a shoebox without breaking the bank.

And of course, the winter weather. I can’t stand the cold!

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it?

I’m always excited to run into British people and usually ask off the top who they support. If it’s Arsenal, I’m terribly disappointed, but I try not to judge! [Editor’s note: feel free to judge away, Miranda, we all do :-)]

My great uncle played for Tottenham and my family have always been Spurs supporters through and through. COME ON YOU SPURS!

Thanks Miranda! If anyone wants to connect, here are her Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Air Transat tests British expats in Canada for homesickness

Air Transat

“Here’s a clue: it’s big and rhymes with hen.”

Air Transat’s latest campaign aims to offer customers a tongue-in-cheek cure for homesickness at the holiday season.

In the video, British expats living in Canada are told they are participating in a scientific study that will help cure their homesickness. While hooked up to a brain scanner, they are shown photos of things like a cup of tea, Big Ben and an English terrier to test just how homesick they are.

The researcher then reveals that she works for Air Transat, giving participants a free ticket to the UK, the only real cure for their homesickness.

Full story here … and you’ll be cutting dusty onions by the end.

Well played, Air Transat!

Brits making the move to Toronto — Part 3: Life so far

Andy McLachlan island

Andy’s dodgy selfie while working on Toronto Islands during the summer

Back in September 2017 we started a series of posts following the real-life adventures of Brits moving to Toronto. The Brit in question is Andy McLachlan and you can read parts 1 and 2 here.

Andy has sent us part three — a quick update on life so far. Read on and hear how this Brit is getting on with a new life in Toronto …

Part 3: Life so far

Since I last contacted you with my A-Z of Toronto, I have continued to exist. The family is doing fine — we finally secured a full-time daycare place for our youngest son in September, so that has ended my ~9 months of child wrangling.

I’ve also enjoyed doing some volunteering, playing with Raspberry Pi projects and drumming with a band called Tay Sera but alas, it’s now high time for me to find a serious job.

So far I’ve been doing some freelance writing and part-time work for Toronto Bicycle Tours as a tour guide on the Islands. People from all over the world go on these tours and it is mostly seasonal work; things have now slowed down a lot for the winter. Only a handful of people have braved the outdoors in November; mostly hardy folk from the Netherlands and elsewhere in Canada.

Overall, it has been a nice change for me to work outside, and to be paid to improve my fitness.

I’ve been applying for professional jobs and I have had a couple of interviews, but nothing right has come along yet.

Please could you do a shout-out to see if anyone out there could employ a nerdy scientist Brit who likes bikes? My LinkedIn profile can be found here.

Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger in conversation with Toronto Star editor Irene Gentle

Alan Rusbridger

WikiLeaks? Tick. Phone-hacking scandal? Tick. Edward Snowden stuff? Tick.

Brits in Toronto got the heads-up on a forthcoming event that will appeal to those aficionados of the British press who will get the chance to hear former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger in conversation with Toronto Star editor Irene Gentle.

Over a 20-year career as editor of the British daily The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger oversaw the publication of ground-breaking journalism: the WikiLeaks story, the phone-hacking scandal, the mass government surveillance as disclosed by U.S National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

As he managed the transition from national print newspaper to news site with a strong global online readership, he championed free access and strong journalistic standards. But decisions made along the way were not without their challenges and controversies.

Join Rusbridger for this conversation with Irene Gentle, editor of the Toronto Star, and for the Canadian launch of his book Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now.

Thursday, November 29
6:00 p.m. Doors open | 7:00 p.m. Discussion | 8:30 p.m. Reception (Cash bar)
Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St. West, Toronto
Tickets = $20-$30

More details here.

Are the UK pensioners finally coming in from the cold?

Anne Puckridge

Photo of Anne Puckridge by her daughter, Gillian

Nigel Nelson is a regular contributor to Brits in Toronto, and is a member of the non-profit Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP), and Past Chair of the (also) non-profit International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP).

Here’s his latest thoughts on the “frozen pensions” policy. All views are the CABP’s and Brits in Toronto does not endorse them and is not held liable in any way. As always, do your due diligence.

As regular readers of this column will know, I have a good friend, James (real person but name changed) who is a doting pensioner in his eighties. If I had to describe James, it would be curmudgeonly, but recently he has an almost sickly smile on his face and he is … humming (not exactly in tune, but humming nevertheless), and here is the reason why.

By way of background and, according to the latest figures from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), there are just over 132,000 UK pensioners living in Canada who are in receipt of a UK State Pension. The average amount received by each of these pensioners is just £42.65 per week, or, based on today’s exchange rates, $71.22 a week — some are receiving as little as £20 per week.

By contrast, there are 11.6 million pensioners in the UK and they receive an average of £145.57 per week; admittedly, there are one of two benefits (such as the disability allowance) that are included in the UK figures that UK pensioners living in Canada are not entitled to. But, as you can see, there is a huge discrepancy between the average weekly amounts received based on where you decide to retire to.

Once a pensioner decides to retire to Canada from the UK their UK State Pension is “frozen” at the level first received here. This is known as the UK “frozen pension” policy which has been in existence for over 70 years. In James’s case, he has received nearly £28,000 (over $51,000 using historic exchange rates) less than he would have received if he had remained in the UK.

James lives in Ontario, and, if he had decided to retire south of Niagara Falls (in the US), he would have continued to receive the annual increases to his UK State Pension, but, by living North of the Falls (in Canada), then he does not receive the annual increases — how can that be fair, on any level?

Anyway, today’s story is not about James, but about another of my friends: Anne Puckridge, whose picture is above.

Anne is 93 years old, and she is a former college lecturer. She lived and worked in the UK for 40 years, paying mandatory National Insurance contributions throughout this time. In 2002, aged 77 she finally retired and decided to move to Canada to be with her daughter, Gillian, and grandchildren who had moved to Calgary in the 1990s.

Sixteen years on, Anne, who served as an intelligence officer in the Women’s Royal Navy in the Second World War, is struggling to live on the frozen £72.50 a week rate she was entitled to when she moved abroad. Anne has received around £22,000 less than if she had stayed in the UK, and, in my article in August, I highlighted the fact that Vic Williams, who passed away earlier this year at the grand old age of 96, had received £67,000 (over $129,000) less than his peers in the UK.

Anne now feels that she will be forced to move back to Britain, because her pension will no longer cover day-to-day expenses and she is increasingly reliant on her daughter to get by.

“It’s the small things, and the injustice, that is really getting to me. I value my independence, but I can’t go on living on the breadline and I don’t want to inflict this on my family. As well as ever-increasingly poverty, I feel a sense of stress and shame, which is affecting my health,” she says.

Anne used to be able to go out to lunch and afternoon tea with her friends, but now she must weigh up the cost of this versus spending the same money on Christmas gifts for her grandchildren.

Last year, in a debate in the UK House of Commons on Pensions Uprating, when referring to Anne, Mhairi Black, MP, Scottish National Party had this to say:

“We are saying, ‘We’re not going to give you that money, but you can go and live abroad, make yourself ill through poverty, worry and the stress of having to come home. When you are forced to return to Britain, don’t worry, we’ll foot the bill for the NHS and everything else.’ The argument about cost does not stand up — costs will increase when pensioners who have been made ill through stress or whatever, have to come back in order to survive.”

The cost to uprate the State Pension worldwide has been estimated by the UK Government to be £600 million, and that the country cannot afford it. However, what they forget to tell you is:

1. According to the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), each pensioner living outside the UK saves the Treasury around £1,500 per pensioner per year. There are 1.2 million UK pensioners living overseas. This means that the UK Government is saving £1.8 billion off the backs of the most vulnerable people in society today – pensioners.

2. All National Insurance Contributions are paid into the National Insurance Fund (NIF), and the State Pension is paid out of the same fund. According to the latest set of NIF accounts (year ended March 31, 2018), there is currently a balance of £24.2 billion (page 13) in the NIF. By law, there must be a “running balance” (or “float”) equal to 1/6th of the Annual Payments from the NIF account (£101.5 billion) which is £16.9 billion, which then leaves an excess of £7.3 billion. Why can the uprating amount of £600 million come from this account? It is also interesting to note that the excess has grown by over £2 billion in the past 12 months. As an aside, this balance of £24.2 billion is used as a UK National Debt offset, rather than distribute it to those who are in most need.

So, when the UK Government says that they cannot afford it, what they are really saying is that the over 520,000 UK pensioners living in “frozen” countries like Canada and Australia aren’t worth it, even though many, like Anne, fought for their country. In addition, because UK pensioners living in this country do not receive the annual increase, the Canadian government is subsidizing the UK government by providing the extremely poor with cash and housing benefits, which is coming out of taxes you and I pay. In addition, it has been estimated that because these pension increases are not being received by UK pensioners living in Canada, it is costing the Canadian economy more than half a billion dollars a year since, typically, pensioners are spenders and not savers.

Just these past few days, Anne and her daughter Gillian have flown to the UK. The International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP), which is half owned by the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP) has recently set up a new petition, where Anne is our campaign “poster girl.”

If you are a “frozen” pensioner, or if you hope to receive a UK State Pension one day, I would ask you to please check out this petition, add your own name to it, and send the link to everyone in your contact list, both here in Canada and in the UK; this is a global issue. So far, the petition has attracted 218,000 signatures and Anne will be on hand in the Palace of Westminster to answer questions that MPs may have. At the same time, the Chairman of the ICBP will be presenting the petition to 10 Downing Street.

Anne has had a lot of attention recently (which she absolutely hates!), as articles have appeared on both sides of the pond. In the UK, the FT Adviser wrote an article, as did The Guardian and Daily Express, and here, in Canada, the BBC (USA and Canada) and the CBC both have articles on their websites, and there is also an article in the International Adviser.

In addition, Brits in Toronto (hello!) and emigrate.co.uk have also picked up the story.

If there are any questions you have relating to the UK State Pension, you can call the CABP toll-free on 1 888 591 3964 or contact info AT britishpensions DOT COM.

UK’s I Am Not A Witch included in European Union Film Festival in Toronto

European Union Film Festival

 This year’s EUFF is being held in … you guessed it … Toronto!

The critically acclaimed European Union Film Festival returns to Toronto with a wide variety of films screening from November 8-22 at the Royal Cinema. Award winning-films will make their debut at the festival, representing a rare opportunity to see these movies on the big screen. With genres spanning drama, comedy, romance and more, there is something for everyone at the EUFF.

Included in the line-up is the United Kingdom’s I Am Not A Witch, a dark, satirical fairy tale about a young girl accused of witchcraft.

After a minor incident in her village, nine-year-old Shula is exiled to a travelling witch camp where she is told that if she tries to escape she will be transformed into a goat. As she navigates through her new life with her fellow witches and a government official who espouses her, exploiting her innocence for his own gain, she must decide whether to accept her fate or risk the consequences of seeking freedom.

The film was both the British entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards 2018, and the 2018 BAFTA winner for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer.

Trailer:

Some Brits to catch at this year’s Hot Docs Podcast Fest in Toronto

The Sound of Europe

Masterclass: The Sound of Europe

I got an e-mail from the organizers of the Hot Docs Podcast Festival starting November 1 in Toronto saying, “This year we’ve invited a couple of British shows and artists over and we wanted to let your followers know about it!

“Two I wanted to flag in particular: The Allusionist, a very funny British show about language, and a Masterclass with Elisha Sessions, Senior Commissioning Producer at BBC Podcasts.”

Here’s links to The Allusionist and Masterclass: The Sound of Europe so you can check them out.

British violinist Daniel Hope and Friends: AIR — A Baroque Journey

 

Daniel Hope

British violinist Daniel Hope cradling his favourite violin

I personally think the violin looks like one of the trickiest instruments to master. How can you pluck the strings AND use the bow at the same time, whilst grimacing? It takes preposterous skill.

Here’s British violinist Daniel Hope making it look easy:

And guess what? He’s coming to Toronto on Saturday, November 3 if you wanted to see some of that violin class in action.

British violinist Daniel Hope, “Among the best in the world as well as the most thoughtful,” (The Observer) returns to Koerner Hall with an outrageous romp through the baroque with a dazzling ensemble of virtuosi wandering minstrels.

Here’s all the deets …

The Royal Conservatory Presents Daniel Hope and Friends: AIR — A Baroque Journey
Saturday, November 3, 2018 at 8:00 p.m.
Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor Street West
Tickets start at only $45
For tickets call 416-408-0208 or visit https://www.rcmusic.com/events-and-performances/daniel-hope-and-friends-air-baroque-journey

You can also send him a little tweet too and welcome him to Toronto!

Entry requirements reminder for Brits travelling to Canada

London to Toronto

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

Quick scary story. I went back home in the summer and booked online using my British passport. All well and good travelling across to the European mainland, up to Scotland and back down to London.

But when I tried to check in online 24 hours before my flight back to Toronto it wouldn’t let me do it and stated some scary message along the lines of — and I paraphrase — “not having the correct documentation,” “the Canadian government isn’t allowing you back in” and “you have to sort it out at the airport.”

I spat out my tea and then tried checking in again online using my Canadian passport. That went through without a hitch. Phew!

Having lived in Toronto for 18 years I got lazy with checking requirements to travel between the UK and Canada … and got caught out.

So this is a word of caution. With Christmas coming along and the possibility of having family and friends over, make sure all their paperwork is in order.

Here’s the official word from the UK government as a starting point.

Seeking British expats for a case study about homesickness being conducted in Toronto and pays approximately $750 if selected

Woman crying

“I really miss me mam, back ‘ome like. But $750 will definitely help me get over that sadness.”

A friend alerted me to this today — thanks Leanne! — and thought I’d pass it on. Might apply myself.

FYI: I have no connection to this company and it’s not an advert. So do your due diligence and Brits in Toronto can’t be held responsible for any woes that arise.

Here’s the original posting. Cut and paste begins … NOW.

Seeking British Expats for a case study about Homesickness being conducted in Toronto

Looking for British Expats – ages 20 to 60. Must be someone who was born and raised in Britain and later moved to Canada. Participants to the case study will be asked to share their experience with homesickness.

*Pays approximately $750 per person if selected.

Please send your name, age, phone number, tell us where you are from in England, how long have you lived here, where do you live currently, recent photos (no hat or sunglasses) and ideally a quick cell phone video of you answering this question: What do you miss most from back home?

Are you a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident?

Email – info@jigsawcasting.com

Please write ‘HOMESICKNESS’ in the subject line of your email, along with your name and age. (E.G. HOMESICKNESS – Josh Howard – age 38)

If selected, we will book you directly from submission. In order to be considered, please make sure you have sent in all required information above. Information collected will only be used to process your application. Participants will be recorded on video. Such video will only be used internally, unless other uses are expressly approved in writing by the participants. The case study is not conducted in the context of medical research. No counselling, medical advice or treatment will be provided in connection with the case study.

Submissions are due ASAP or before: Oct 18 at 9am.

You must be available for this key date (in Toronto):

Case study interview – October 24, 2018

Totally biased product review by me — Campbell’s Butter Chicken and Vegetables Soup

Butter chicken and vegetables soup

Heaven in a tin? If you’re too lazy to read the review, no

Was wandering around Loblaws at the weekend looking for the organic alfalfa sprouts section when I spotted two words on a tin that shouted BUY ME! Butter Chicken … soup. With veggies thrown in to make it a balanced meal. Sold!

Noticing that this soup was part of the famed Chunky range I hoped that the contents would live up to the lunchtime legacy — but, alas, not to be.

It wasn’t really a soup, per se (by or in itself or themselves; intrinsically), but more of a gloopy stew. It’s the kind that when you heat it up on the cooker, heat bubbles get trapped under the surface until they force their way up and explode out of the saucepan, like a butter chicken stew volcano eruption.

Had a quick sniff and — yes — it smelled like curry. More like a Mulligatawny soup actually, the kind that the Canadian government still won’t let Brits bring into the country from back home. But we’ve started a Twitter campaign to right that travesty!

Taste? Too tame. Butter chicken is on the mild end of the “sweat and blow your nose” spectrum but I was hoping for a touch more spice.

The vegetable-to-chicken ratio (VTCR) seemed too high and the “Chunky” bits of chicken were very small and a little tough for my liking. It did fill me up though, so that was a bonus.

Bit disappointing when all is said and done. Unfortunately have to give this curry product a Brits in Toronto 1/5 stars.

Successful Brits in Toronto: James Deeley

James Deeley

“Oh yes, I’d say it’s definitely NOT a bull market! Law joke, by the way. Ha!” (But it doesn’t really work, James, because it should be a bear then, not an elephant, mate.)

“I’m the funny Brit on @DownToFlux.”

We spotted that statement from James Deeley and immediately “funny” and “Brit” ticked a lot of boxes for us, but “flux” not so much as we have no idea what that means and probably only appeals to people who dress up as Spock and stand in line for three hours for Gillian Anderson’s autograph at $250 a pop or something.

But then we went down the rabbit hole and actually read his bio and it said, “British guys that play games & talk about stuff.”

We’d say that James has definitely made it in life based on that, and thus, is our latest Successful Brit in Toronto.

We also note that he works for a law firm so have to say that the following is James’s own words and not legal advice in any way apart from the bit where he recommends a British pub that allegedly has the best roast this side of the pond. If you feel that is NOT the case then please get representation and contact James directly and leave us out of it. Ta.

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

I had visited Toronto a couple of times on holidays and fell in love with the city straight away, seeing how clean everything was, how friendly and helpful the people were, and just how proud they are of their city. I ended up visiting about five or six times before finally moving out here in June of 2016.

I moved to Toronto with the plan to stay here permanently right from the get go, and nothing I have experienced while living here has made me doubt my choice at all.

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

Because I came over with the intention to stay here permanently, it was tricky to find a job that wasn’t just waiting tables or working in a Tims, jobs that many people on the same type of visa as me (Canadian Working Experience) go for in order to fund their adventures.

I wanted a job with solid career prospects from the start and because I didn’t have Permanent Resident status at this time, it was almost impossible to land a permanent role, so I tried everything to get my foot in the door with even a temporary contract position.

I signed up for LinkedIn, I handed out copies of my resume to anywhere that’d take it, I scoured job sites for hours and hours, and visited about 10 different recruitment agencies, one of which got back to me within a week with an eight-week temporary role in a downtown law firm, helping them move offices.

Luckily for me, my manager liked my work ethic and I’m still in the same firm two years later, just in a permanent position managing teams in both Toronto and Ottawa.

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

I think some of the best aspects of living in Toronto are the same things that made me fall in love with the city during my first visits, and the pride that people have for Toronto and their sports teams really makes you feel a part of something special.

Building on that, there is always something going on and it feels like you can find another hidden gem every time you go out. Toronto has so many different cultures and backgrounds within it, and there are so many fantastic restaurants, bars, music venues etc. to satisfy any craving you may have!

HST has to be one of the less attractive aspects of living in Toronto, or Canada in general. It takes a while to adjust to the fact that everything costs 13% more than the marked price!

Another of the downsides, as I’m sure most Torontonians would agree, is the winter. It’s not as bad as other parts of Canada, but as a Brit who is used to mostly rainy winters with the very occasional snowfall, it’s quite the shock to the system to have everything under a foot of snow for months!

House prices have to be one of the major downsides of living in Toronto. I’m from a little town outside London where house prices were pretty bad anyway, but looking for somewhere in Toronto for a reasonable price is almost hopeless!

You’re far better off looking for somewhere a little outside of the city, or just renting until you’re a millionaire!

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

Most of the people I met when I first came over were through an organization called SWAP Working Holidays, who help people who come to Canada on IEC visas to adjust to Canadian life and meet people. They host lots of social events and it’s through these that I met many of my friends, who are largely fellow Brits (Maybe it’s the same sense of humour?).

Whilst some of these friends have now moved back home to Blighty, a few of them chose the path to Permanent Residency like myself, and we meet up pretty regularly, and also try to meet new people of any nationality! It just so seems that our interests tend to guide us towards Brit-heavy things!

Talking of Brit-heavy things, the Toronto Wolfpack Rugby League Team play out of Lamport Stadium in Liberty Village, and not only is going to a game a great day out, but it’s a good way to meet other people as most of the crowd are Rugby fans, mainly Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, with a smattering of Canadians for good measure!

Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.

If you’re moving to Toronto and have heard about the winter weather, it is not a joke! It’s a far better option to wait until you get here to buy some winter clothes because it’s pretty unlikely that your winter gear from home will be up to the job. Plus it saves plenty of room in your suitcase!

For those of you, like myself, that really do get a craving for a good old Sunday roast, The Queen and Beaver on Elm street is a British-style pub that serves the best roast I have had so far this side of the Atlantic!

A good way to meet other Brits in Toronto, I’d suggest doing it through the Meetup app, or through Facebook. On both I am a member of groups called Brits in Toronto (funnily enough) and there is always people posting advice, events and other useful stuff.

If anyone if after any information about anything more specific, I’d encourage them to reach out to me directly (Twitter) and I’ll do my best to help them out! It’s a big deal moving countries, but you are in good company in Toronto.

A Very English Concert

A Very English Concert

“Hello old bean, can I interest you in some English string pieces? And biscuits and tea? Hoorah! Then cast your eyes below forthwith.”

Kemi Lo took the plunge for some free PR, fired up the old e-mail machine to write us a nice note … and here we are.

“I am the Artistic Director of the Unitatis Strings, a strings group based in Toronto comprising of violins, violas, cellos and double basses. We are having an English-themed classical concert on September 22, 2018 from 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. at St. George the Martyr Anglican Church, near Osgoode station. We are playing English pieces that are dated as early as 1960, and as far back as 1695.

“The tickets are $10 for students, and $30 for adults, and can be purchased at the door (cash only), or through our website at www.unitatisstrings.com/upcoming-concerts. There will be biscuits and tea after the concert!”

Did you say biscuits and tea?! SOLD.